Wine for the Masses, Courtesy of the 'Average Guy'

The Establishment Turns Up Its Nose

Vaynerchuk's venture comes at a booming time for the U.S. wine industry. A 2005 Gallup poll showed that, for the first time ever, Americans preferred wine over beer. In February, the trade group VinExpo/IWSR predicted that by 2010, the value of wine consumed in the United States would grow about 18 percent, to $23 billion. That will make the United States the world's biggest wine market by volume, surpassing current leaders — and historically bottle-loving countries — France and Italy.

Though Vaynerchuk's goal is to expand wine's appeal, the industry isn't always supportive of his efforts — after all, who wants their vintage likened to cat pee? He said his relationships with some of his store's suppliers had suffered.

"It's been tough," he said, "because I've never known a world where my suppliers didn't appreciate what I was doing, and I live in that world now. I'm comparing wines to big league chew and to your leather baseball glove. I don't think that's what the establishment enjoys."

Then there are the critics who say Vaynerchuk's taking the prestige out of wine by marketing to the masses. But he's not about to stop his webcast anytime soon — at least, not until every football fan watches the big game with a long-stemmed glass in hand.

"The wine world wants to show you the prestige of beautiful vineyards and restaurants and high-end wines and guys in suits and ties," he said. "And here I am wearing my Jets jersey saying this wine's a mix between dog poop and strawberries. It's going to ruffle people's feathers."

As for Vaynerchuk's fellow football fans who refuse to give up their tried-and-true brew, the salesman and budding star wants them to know they'll pack on fewer pounds by switching to wine. He believes that if anyone can convert a nation founded on beer, it's him.

"I can do it because I'm that guy," Vaynerchuk said. "I am the average guy."

You can check out Vaynerchuk's webcast here. And tell us about your favorite wines by commenting on this story.

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